Everybody came — even the wire services — whom Wasserman had vowed passionately to exclude. No one recognized anybody until it was all over, with Jagger having "walked" just as Wasserman said he would."
"He'll walk, Gil. Do you understand what I'm trying to tell you? If there's one reporter there too many, or one too many camera lenses in front of him, he'll just walk straight through all those people and out the door. He'llwalk, I'm telling you."
"But, Paul," I said, "we owe favors to people. There's Chris Hamel in Springfield who knew before anybody else, and who didn't say a word. There's the kid from Spencer, and the three TV stations in Boston."
"Leave the TV stations to me, Gil," Paul said.
"What about Channel 27 in Worcester? What about the Phoenix? What about my skin once you're all in Philadelphia in your bright, new Long View satin jackets?"
"I haven't been sized for a jacket yet."
"You're a men's large, Paul," I said. "Keith got his in lavender. How about a men's large in black?"
It was now 11:30 AM on Thursday, the day of the Stones' departure for Philadelphia. Paul Wasserman had done his stint on the phone the night before, and at my urging had accepted frantic phone calls from at least a couple of dozen hysterical news reporters. He had gone back to the Copper Lantern Motel during the wee hours, and said he'd hand down all decisions on the farewell party press invites at eleven o'clock the next morning. (The event was to occur only two hours later, at 1 PM.) I started ringing his room at 7:30, and sent a car over for him at 9:30, and had already fielded some twenty-five morning phone calls from area media sorts before he arrived at the Farm for breakfast. I had given at least one good radio interview to a station in Turners Falls, Massachusetts, saying things about the tumult at Long View, our feelings of responsibility toward the media and our clients alike, and not knowing sometimes exactly what to do.
Wasserman gave a sign to Solveig, and Solveig set about frying up his usual order of eggs & sausage, and fussed about looking for the morning edition of the Worcester Telegram, which Wasserman always took with his eggs.
"He'll walk, Gil. I promise you that. I don't care what I said last night. We've got to cut it down to under twenty."
"Maybe not. Who's the girl at Channel 27?"
"Katie Cowdery, Paul. She knew early, shut up when we told her to, and could use the story. Her plus one, her cameraperson, Maxine. It's 16 millimeter."
"Only if Channel 4 plays cutesy, or sends that guy, what's-his-name... Why are they still using 16 millimeter?"
I called Katie myself a few minutes later and told her to come, with Maxine. It was now nearly noon, and she'd have just enough time to get there. As it turned out, no one was ever on top of who actually came, and who didn't. Everybody came — even the wire services — whom Wasserman had vowed passionately to exclude. No one recognized anybody until it was all over, with Jagger having "walked" just as Wasserman said he would.
"Look, Gil," I heard over the din, and over the click-rewinds of the motor-driven Nikons, and over the waiting whine of the Fokker F28 on the tarmac just outside. It was Wasserman.
"Look at him eyeing the door. He's going to walk. I told you." Mick was in fact looking nervously toward the door, then back toward a reporter who was literally shouting a question in his face. Mick shook his head, and gave Ronnie Wood, who was standing just next to him, a sharp jab in the ribs.
"Let's go, Ronnie, we're leavin'."
Ronnie was in the midst of a confession to the effect that he liked all other rock 'n' roll bands equally, but he broke it off in mid-sentence, without apology, and followed Mick out the door, jaw set firmly. Ronnie was ready.
"That's it," Wasserman repeated. "He's making his move. You did all right, Gil. It would have been my throat instead. You did great."
Wasserman looked around frantically for his large overstuffed briefcase, saw it, and grabbed it up.
"Thanks, Paul," I said, "too bad we couldn't have . . ."
"See you later, little partner," Wasserman interrupted, lunging at the door, briefcase first, propelled by his right knee. "Men's large?"
"Black," I shouted to him, through cupped hands, thoroughly startling Bill Wyman, who happened now to be close to me, on my left, in the company of a large AM radio disc jockey whose face was red from asking the same uninteresting question too many times, with no answers to show for his time.
"Gil," he said. "Thank you, Gil."
"What for, Bill?" I taunted, knowing that we had done more to make him and Astrid comfortable than we had done for the rest of the band put together. A new Sony TV set, wired for cable, Preview, then for satellite maybe, if we could arrange it. A new bedroom set for Astrid, picked out by her and Geoff Myers at the local antiquaire in North Brookfield. The bedroom painted per Astrid's specifications (twice), blackout curtains on all windows, and across all cracks. A private press conference for Bill at the home of Mrs. Langevin, who collects china and antiques, and who lives in town, away from the Farm. Personal telephone answering and call forwarding. Parts for Bill's Apple computer, blank VHS video cassettes to record movies off the TV, and mainly, our silent assurances that we saw that he was different — a cut above your average brawling Stone. A man with a career of his own, a recent book about Marc Chagall, and a hit record of his own in three European markets, Si Si, Je suis un rock star. A gentleman.
"What for, Bill?" I laughed.
And then Bill Wyman laughed, right at me, and we chuckled for a moment together, as the crush of Stones photographers and hangers-on proceeded from left to right, jostling us not a little, on their way to the waiting jet. Mick was already on board, and there was thus the distinct possibility that someone might now get left behind.
"Get on the plane, Bill," I said. And he did, still laughing as I had not seen him laugh at any time during his six weeks at Long View Farm. .
All original material copyright © Gilbert Scott Markle. All rights reserved.